Coyote smoked his cigarette,
And as he watched the smoke
Rise spiralling to the stars,
I could tell he was planning a prank
From where I sat across the fire.
“We’re going to grab us some moonlight
And put it in a bag;
And when Nokomis finds it’s missing
We’ll just play wide-eyed,
You and I.”
“Coyote,” I said, “how in the world
Do you go bagging moonlight?
That’s like trying to capture a sigh
Or a ray of sunshine,
Or a passing breeze.”
“You just leave it to me,” he said
With that glint in his golden eye.
Then he turned up his furry face
And gave a howl into the night.
It echoed off the hills.
Then he whipped out a leather pouch
And opened it wide to the night;
And just as quick he drew the drawstring tight,
Tucked it back behind his belt,
And took another drag.
“You haven’t got anything there,” I said,
Smirking at him through the flames.
“Whyn’t you show me.”
“No way,” said he, “the light’ll get out
And there won’t be any trick!”
Just then Nokomis entered the circle,
A scowl on her ageless face
And something else, a smudge,
Darkening one cheek.
“Nanabozho,” she said, her voice like cool silver,
“Coyote,” she shouted, now the anger clear;
“Trickster,” she thundered, a vein pulsing in her neck,
“What have you done with my light?”
Coyote bayed at the stars,
Yipped like a kit,
Danced on his hind legs and laughed
And turned to me,
“Now do you believe?”
And I sat there, mouth agaping,
As the fire died down to coals,
As Nokomis waited for her answer
And the stars wheeled above
And the night owl hooted in the trees.
Coyote leapt up and danced;
He pulled out the leather pouch,
Tossing it from hand to hand,
And when Nokomis was fit to burst
He pulled the string,
And out burst a blaze of moonlight,
Silver and brilliant and clear,
And Nokomis burst into brilliance
And outshone the stars as she glowed,
Her light restored.
But of course you don’t believe me
Like I didn’t believe Coyote.
How do you capture a moonbeam
And hide it in a rawhide pouch
On a starry, moonless night?